The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU-VA) seeks a smart, sophisticated and dynamic leader with a mix of public policy advocacy and issue-based campaign experience to help the organization achieve its public policy goals through effective integrated advocacy.

ACLU-VA is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that defends and protects those civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the nation’s and Virginia’s civil rights laws. ACLU-VA is the state affiliate of the national ACLU, which for nearly 100 years has served as the nation’s premier guardian of the liberties that define our democracy. Together with the national ACLU, ACLU-VA works to advance civil liberties by employing litigation, public policy advocacy, public education, organizing, communications and social media to protect and promote a broad range of individual rights, including freedom of speech, racial justice, privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights and rights for people with disabilities. The organization often works with broad coalitions of conservatives, moderates, and progressives, locally, statewide and nationally.

The Virginia affiliate, with its office in Richmond, Virginia, has a $1.8 million operating budget and 12 staff positions. ACLU-VA is two separate non-profit organizations: the ACLU of Virginia, a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation that primarily engages in lobbying and advocacy, and the ACLU Foundation of Virginia, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that primarily engages in litigation and public education. Although the ACLU’s reputation is built on effective litigation at every level of the justice system, civil liberties cannot be protected in the courts alone. It is necessary to advocate in the halls of government and in the court of public opinion, and while the organization has had a legislative lobbying program, its political advocacy has not attained the scale or the impact of its legal program.

ACLU-VA now seeks to build a more expansive advocacy infrastructure to increase the organization’s effectiveness in achieving its public policy objectives. The goal is to advance a powerful political strategy to stop or change legislation that restricts individual freedoms and to advance legislation that strengthens civil liberties and civil rights. ACLU-VA will also involve itself in promoting the passage of a resolution putting on the ballot an amendment to the constitution to assure the right to vote, and, when necessary, will mount campaigns to defeat any ballot measure that is hostile to civil liberties.

Position Overview:

Reports to: Executive Director

Exempt/non-exempt: Exempt

Job Summary: The Director of Advocacy plays a leadership role in advancing policy change through the ACLU of Virginia’s integrated advocacy program that seeks to protect civil rights and civil liberties through litigation, legislation, and public education and in shaping the overall vision of the affiliate’s work. The Director collaborates with others in identifying policy change opportunities achievable through education, legislation or litigation. The Director of Advocacy will be responsible for bringing together legislative strategy, outside organizing and communications to achieve the ACLU-VA public policy priorities and identify new and effective strategies to address and remedy critical civil liberties concerns. The Director is a key member of the management team who participates fully in establishing and accomplishing program priorities, developing the affiliate’s budget and managing the budget for the advocacy and campaigns programs, and assisting in raising funds to carry out the affiliate’s programs. The Director of Advocacy will help define and build the team for this new program. The team ultimately will include advocacy and campaign program managers, organizers, and contract lobbying, public relations, and consulting firms.

Major Job Responsibilities/Activities:

 Advocacy for Policy Change:

  • Develop and manage the ACLU-VA’s advocacy infrastructure and an increasing cohort of ACLU-VA political/campaign staff, lobbyists and contract lobbyists to bolster support for the organization’s legislative campaigns, engaging policy-makers from both sides of the political aisle and across the political spectrum;
  • Participate in defining the state legislative agenda, serving as the ACLU-VA principal lobbyist, and execute campaigns involving state and local legislation that will bring together and galvanize both conservatives and liberals;
  • Lead the development of a grass tops deployment strategy, building on a current network of card-carrying ACLU members in addition to thousands who are connected as online and social network activists;
  • Collaborate with the Director of Strategic Communications on educational and advocacy materials that will empower members, supporters and the public to engage with policy makers and elected officials to achieve ACLU-VA policy objectives;
  • Build and nurture effective multi-organizational coalitions and alliances on priority issues and campaigns;
  • Develop and manage effective working relationships with key public officials at the federal, state and local levels;
  • Coordinate an advocacy communications strategy in collaboration with the Director of Strategic Communications to leverage traditional and new media to advance policy changes;
  • Oversee the execution of a legislative strategy to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot, and an issue campaign to ensure its passage, and, when necessary, define and implement a strategy to defeat state constitutional ballot measures that would restrict civil liberties;
  • Participate in building effective multi-organizational coalitions and alliances on priority issues and campaigns;
  • Participate in development of online activism campaigns and other web organizing campaigns.

Management and supervision:

  • Develop and maintain relationships with appropriate staff at the National ACLU, its projects, other affiliates and participate in National and regional ACLU staff conferences;
  • Participate in the professional development of advocacy staff;
  • Actively supervise and evaluate the work of staff on the advocacy team and contribute to the evaluation of the work of other affiliate staff participating in legal or policy advocacy or communications;
  • Recruit, hire, train, develop, and supervise advocacy staff and interns;
  • Oversee preparation of regular reports for the Board of Directors on the affiliate’s policy advocacy and legislative and issue campaigns;
  • Develop metrics for measuring the outcomes of the advocacy programs of the affiliate;
  • Develop and manage the annual budget for advocacy, campaign and outreach programs; and
  • Assist with fundraising activities.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Commitment to the mission and goals of the ACLU, and to racial justice and civil rights issues and an understanding that these issues are central to overall protection of civil liberties;
  • Demonstrated and proven leadership experience working in an organization with both professional staff and volunteers;
  • Knowledge of the legislative and administrative processes at the state level;
  • Sophisticated understanding of how to be effective in the public policy arena, and experience in political organizing and formulating strategies that tie together research, legal analysis and litigation, lobbying, new forms of communications, and grassroots and grass tops strategies;
  • Knowledge of current political alignments and opportunities for collaboration with a broad range of groups;
  • Experience working closely and effectively with all media platforms and familiarity with social media as a communications and organizing tactic;
  • History of working collaboratively and successfully with people and organizations from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and a broad range of ideological positions and religious views;
  • Finely honed and highly strategic political and campaign skills and high-level experience in leading, designing, and implementing significant political campaigns and effective organizing strategies;
  • Interest in working with the Executive Director and other senior managers in raising funds with which to pursue the organization’s ambitious agenda;
  • Seasoned and effective leader with a record of recruiting, developing, and managing a highly talented and diverse staff, as well as overseeing budget and administration;
  • Willingness to work beyond normal work day or more than 40 hours a week as necessary;
  • Willingness to travel as necessary;
  • Facility with Microsoft Office suite;
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusion; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance, and able to work with diverse individuals within the organization and broader community.

Essential Skills and Abilities:

  • Excellent writing, speaking and analytical skills.
  • Substantive knowledge and understanding of constitutional law, civil rights and civil liberties issues.
  • Strong self-motivation; ability to meet tight deadlines; adaptability; attention to detail.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with diverse communities and people.
  • Ability to provide clear direction, delegates well, and assumes ultimate responsibility.
  • Skill and comfort in proactively building relationships with diverse audiences, including public officials, reporters and editors, community leaders, coalition partners and the public.

Desirable Attributes and Experience:

  • An understanding and keen interest in First Amendment and privacy issues as fundamental civil liberties principles;
  • Experience in public policy advocacy, public policy research and analysis, civil liberties law or related field.
  • Demonstrated experience successfully building and managing integrated advocacy campaigns and coalitions.
  • Experience in the non-profit sector.
  • Experience with legislative and government relations and campaigns in Virginia.
  • Fluency in Spanish.

Compensation and Benefits: Salary based on market factors and individual experience and abilities. The salary range for this position is $65,650 to $98,475. To preserve the opportunity for advancement, we do not normally hire above the mid‐point of the range. Excellent benefits include paid time off, generous paid holidays, medical and dental insurance, 401k plan, life insurance, income replacement during illness through a combination of annual sick leave, short term disability and long‐term disability insurance.  

To Apply: Email a letter of interest, resume, brief writing sample, and three professional references to jobs@acluva.org. Please indicate “Director of Advocacy” in the subject line of your email. Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this job opportunity. No phone calls, please.

Alternatively, application materials may be mailed to: ACLU of Virginia, 701 E. Franklin Street, Suite 1412, Richmond, VA 23219.

Deadline: Application materials will be reviewed as received and will be accepted until the position is filled. 

The ACLU of Virginia is an equal opportunity employer.  We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU of Virginia encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status.   Persons with disabilities may request accommodations.

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